“I would really like to go back to school. I would love it now.” ~ Fiona Apple
THE SCHOOL, transformed from traditional classrooms into a massive 30,000 square foot art museum, looks just as it did in its past life on the exterior. Stepping inside, I was astonished. Gleaming white spaces, punctuated by an occasional brick wall left intact and enormous works of art, were the vision of renowned NYC gallery owner, Jack Shainman. Located in the center of the small town of Kinderhook, along the Hudson in Columbia County, NY, THE SCHOOL’s focus is worldwide art.
One of the most fascinating installations is by the artist, Garnett Puett. Representing the fourth generation of beekeepers, he has designed a series of metal armatures, within which bees have constructed “artworks” in their own medium – honeycomb. In what was once a school bathroom, with exposed brick walls and evidence of former plumbing fixtures, there is a case made of wood and glass. At the back there is a tube filled with worker bees, running to the outside of the building. Traveling in and out, they demonstrate “a communal process and repetition,” two themes that flow throughout the four current installations.
We can learn something from this. In schools like this, where kids once sat in desks, bolted to the ground and apart from their peers, they can now create in cohorts. They can build something powerful. They can let their ideas fly free. And when they keep on keeping on, a small idea can morph into something bolder than they’d ever imagined.
That’s what happened when Jack Shainman came to town. In a community of 8,000 residents, he helped an old school take on a new life. Once a high school, then an elementary school, THE SCHOOL has become a place where one man’s ideals now reside and where a new kind of learning is now possible for every generation.
There’s something to learn here for everyone. If you’re in the area – don’t miss it. THE SCHOOL is open Saturdays from 10-5.
Nancy Harris Frohlich
“They always say that time changes things, but you have to change them yourself.” ~ Andy Warhol